Thursday, June 16, 2011

The New Gary Burton Quartet - Common Ground (Mack Avenue, 2011)

Vibraphonist Gary Burton has led or co-led a number of bands throughout his lengthy career, but he is particularly enthusiastic about this new group featuring guitar prodigy Julian Lange, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Antonio Sanchez. The group achieves a light and nimble sound throughout the record focusing on melody and group interaction. This spry, dexterous interaction is on display with the first few compositions that are buoyant and agile, "Late Night Sunrise" and "Never the Same Way" feature a tight guitar and vibraphone sound that is lightweight but doesn't clash, developing a shimmering feel, that is also present on the fast paced tune "Did You Get It" which gives Lage a chance to strut his stuff, spiraling out waves of notes. There are a couple of ballad features, the Burton original "Was is So Long Ago?" written for Astor Piazolla, and the haunting "Last Snow." Both are slow and stately performances, they develop their melodic nature in a patient manner with crystalline vibes and rippling guitar. The only standard on the album is the oft recorded "My Funny Valentine" sporting a solo guitar introduction before the rest of the band falls in to the well known melody. They end with another ballad, Keith Jarrett's "In Your Quiet Place" whose tempo and use of silence suits the group well as they slowly develop their melodic improvisation. Common Ground - amazon.com

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